Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a relatively new benefit for people between the ages of 16 and 64 with a long-term illness or disability.
If you have Parkinson's you may feel you need the extra support PIP can provide.
What is Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?
If you are between the ages of 16 and 64 and need extra help or have trouble getting around due to long-term ill health or disability, you may be able to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
PIP has replaced Disability Living Allowance for people of working age (between the ages of 16 and 64). If you are of working age and are already getting Disability Living Allowance, you will be invited to be re-assessed for PIP at some point.
If you are aged 65 or over and have care or supervision needs, you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance instead.
PIP is for you, not for a carer, and you don’t need to have someone looking after you to qualify.
If you are awarded this benefit, it is entirely up to you how you use it.
PIP is not taxable and you don’t need to have paid National Insurance contributions to get it.
You can claim the benefit whether you’re in or out of work and it is not means-tested. In other words, it is not affected by earnings or other benefits you receive or any savings you have.
PIP has two parts: a ‘daily living component’ and a ‘mobility component’. You can get either component or both together, depending on your needs.
The daily living component
The daily living component helps cover the extra costs you may face if you need help carrying out daily living activities.
It is paid at 2 different rates: a standard rate and an enhanced rate.
The rate you are paid depends on whether your ability to carry out daily living activities is limited or severely limited. This is tested under the PIP assessment.
The mobility component
The mobility component helps cover the extra costs that you may face if you have difficulties getting around.
It is paid at 2 different rates: a standard rate and an enhanced rate.
The rate you are paid depends on whether your ability to carry out mobility activities is limited or severely limited. This is tested under the PIP assessment.
If you qualify for the enhanced rate, you may also be able to join the Motability scheme. This enables disabled people to use the enhanced rate to obtain a new car, powered wheelchair or scooter to help with getting around
You may also qualify automatically for the Blue Badge scheme, which allows people with mobility problems to park closer to their destinations.
Do I qualify for PIP?
To qualify, you must satisfy the following basic conditions:
- You must be aged between 16 and 64 when you claim.
- You will not be able to claim PIP if you are 65 or over, but you will be able to stay on PIP if you claimed it before you reached the age of 65.
- If you are aged 65 or over and have care or supervision needs, you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance instead.
- You must have been present in Great Britain for 2 out of the last 3 years before claiming. Your immigration status must not prevent you from claiming.
- You must normally live in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Republic of Ireland or the Isle of Man.
You must also meet the disability conditions. The disability conditions look at your daily living needs and your mobility needs. These are considered under the PIP assessment.
You must have met the disability conditions for at least three months before a PIP award can be made. You must also be likely to continue to meet them for a period of 9 months in the future.
What is the PIP assessment?
The PIP assessment aims to test your ability to participate in everyday life.
It is a points-related assessment and is based on your ability to perform different activities relating to your daily living needs and your mobility.
The number of points you score will determine whether or not you are entitled to either component of PIP and, if you are, at which rate.
The daily living activities
Your ability to carry out daily living activities is assessed by looking at 10 types of activity. These are:
- preparing food
- taking nutrition (eating and drinking)
- managing therapy or monitoring a health condition
- washing and bathing
- managing toilet needs or incontinence
- dressing and undressing
- communicating verbally
- reading and understanding signs, symbols and words
- engaging with other people face-to-face
- making budgeting decisions
The mobility activities
Your ability to carry out mobility activities is assessed by looking at 2 types of activity. These are:
- planning and following journeys
- moving around
Within each of the above activity headings are a series of ‘descriptors’ with scores ranging from 0 to 12 points. The descriptors describe related tasks of varying degrees of difficulty and the different types of help you need to complete each task.
You score points when you are not able to complete a task described safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period. The highest descriptor score from each activity heading is added together to work out your points for each component.
We list the descriptors and scores for the daily living activities and the mobility activities in our supplementary guidance on the PIP assessment (PDF, 95KB).
How many points do I need?
To be entitled to the standard rate of the daily living component, you need to score at least 8 points under the 10 daily living activities. To be entitled to the enhanced rate, you need to score at least 12 points.
Likewise, to be entitled to the standard rate of the mobility component, you need to score at least 8 points under the two mobility activities, and at least 12 points for the enhanced rate.
What if my condition fluctuates?
A descriptor will apply if you are unable to perform a task for the majority of days (ie on over half of the days of the week).
This will be considered over a 12-month period, looking back 3 months and forward 9 months.
Where one descriptor is satisfied on over half the days in that period, that descriptor will apply.
Where 2 or more descriptors are satisfied on over half the days, the descriptor which scores the highest number of points will apply.
If you are not sure which descriptors apply to you, keeping a diary over a week may help you to choose the correct ones.
How much will I get for PIP?
Each component of PIP has 2 rates: a standard rate and an enhanced rate.
Daily living component per week
- Standard rate £55.10
- Enhanced rate £82.30
Mobility component per week
- Standard rate £21.80
- Enhanced rate £57.45
How do I claim PIP?
Someone else can make this call on your behalf, but you need to be with them when they do so.
During this call, you’ll need to provide basic details including:
- your personal and contact details,
- National Insurance number
- details of your bank or building society (for payment purposes).
It will help if you have this information ready when you make the call.
You will also be asked for:
- details of your GP and hospital specialist
- whether you have a mental health or behavioural problem (you are asked this in case you may need help to complete the claim form).
You should not be asked what your medical condition is or how it affects you at this stage.
If you have difficulty speaking and do not have someone who could help give the answers, it is possible to ask for a paper claim form, and someone can fill this in for you.
What happens after you claim for PIP?
If you satisfy the basic qualifying conditions for PIP, you will be sent a form to complete called ‘How your disability affects you’.
If it is clear from the information you have provided when you started the claim that you do not satisfy the basic qualifying conditions for PIP, the Department for Work and Pensions will send you a letter stating that your claim has been disallowed.
Completing the ‘How your disability affects you’ form
The form gives you the chance to describe how your condition affects your daily life. An information booklet comes with the form.
Read this first, and have a look through the form before completing any of it.
We have also provided extra guidance and examples, as well as definitions of some of the terms used, in our supplementary guidance on the PIP assessment (PDF, 95KB).
You may wish to write in pencil first, or make some notes on separate sheets of paper, before filling in the form in pen. Unfortunately, there is no way to fill this form in online at the moment.
If you have difficulty writing and do not have someone who could help fill in the form for you, contact our free confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303 for support.
The form will ask you for details of the professionals who are best placed to provide advice on your circumstances.
Examples are given – they can include social workers and support workers, as well as medical professionals, such as your GP.
It’s best to put details of the professionals who know your problems best, such as your Parkinson’s nurse.
Whoever you put down, contact them and let them know that you’re applying for PIP and have included their contact details on the form.
Make it clear that you give permission for them to discuss your condition, as this will help to speed up the medical evidence gathering process and may help you avoid having a face-to-face consultation.
The points-based questions on the 'How your disability affects you' form
Most of the form is made up of questions relating to the points-based PIP assessment.
You get points for what you cannot manage, not for what you can. It is important to be clear about the difficulties you experience, so that you are assessed accurately.
Give yourself plenty of time to complete the form – you do not have to do it all in one sitting.
Questions 3 to 12 relate to the activity headings of the daily living component. Questions 13 and 14 relate to the activity headings of the mobility component.
The activity headings, the ’descriptors’ under each heading, and the points allocated to each one, are listed in our supplementary guidance on the PIP assessment (PDF, 95KB).
When thinking about which descriptor should apply to you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Would you have problems with this sort of task at some point in the day?
- Do you need help from another person to complete the task? If you do need help, what kind of help do you need? Does someone physically help you, reassure you, encourage you, remind you or explain to you how to do something? Or do they need to supervise you?
- Do you use aids and/or appliances to help you with a task? If you do, say what they are and how useful they are.
- Can you do some parts of the task but not others?
- Are you unable to do the task at all? Explain why.
- Can you do a task but it takes you at least twice as long as it should?
- Can you do this task as often as you need to throughout the day?
- Do your needs change? Describe in what way and how often. Explain about good and bad days or how your needs vary throughout the day.
- Do you regularly have accidents (such as falls) or are you at risk of having accidents if attempting the task alone?
- Do you have any side effects from doing the task? Do you experience pain, breathlessness, tiredness or stress and anxiety either during or after performing the task?
- For some of these points, it may help to keep a diary of your needs.
The extra information box
The second page of each question has a box where you can explain what difficulties you face with each activity. Examples are provided above the box and in the information booklet that comes with the form.
For more detailed guidance on the questions, including examples that could be written in the extra information box, please see the supplementary guidance on the PIP assessment (PDF, 95KB).
Before you send off the form
If you can, attach photocopies of any additional evidence that you have to the form.
Anything that helps an assessor understand how your condition impacts your day-to-day life is useful. For example, this could include copies of:
- care and support plans
- information from professionals such as your specialist, Parkinson’s nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, social worker, support worker or counsellor.
If you would prefer an assessment in the morning or afternoon, put this on your form, as it may help you avoid being given an inappropriate time when booking your appointment.
You should return your completed form as soon as possible, as there is a time limit for its return.
If you get new evidence that could help your claim after you’ve sent the form back, you should make a copy and send it to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Make a photocopy of the form once you have completed it, along with any supporting evidence you are sending with your claim. Keep this safe.
How the claim for PIP is assessed
Once your ‘How your disability affects you’ form has been returned, your case will be passed to one of the 2 companies contracted to carry out the PIP assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions: Atos Healthcare and Capita.
Once your case has been passed to one of these companies, they will allocate it to a healthcare professional working for them.
This healthcare professional may contact your GP or specialist for more information first.
However, in most cases the healthcare professional will arrange to see you at a face-to-face consultation, unless they feel they have enough supporting evidence to make a decision on paper.
The face-to-face consultation
The face-to-face consultation will usually take place at an Assessment Centre. You can request a home visit if you are unable to attend the Assessment Centre.
Atos and Capita are also able to offer and arrange a taxi at their cost to and from the Assessment Centre.
At the face-to-face consultation, the healthcare professional will identify the descriptors that they believe apply to you (see the supplementary guidance on the PIP assessment (PDF, 95KB) for a list of these descriptors).
To do this, they will ask questions about your day-to-day life, your home, how you manage at work if you have a job, and about any social or leisure activities that you take part in (or have had to give up). They will often ask you to describe a typical day in your life.
Keep in mind that the healthcare professional is there to build a picture of how your condition affects you on a day-to-day basis over the course of one year.
So it’s important not to be concerned that you will be judged on how you may be feeling on the day of your consultation.
Don’t stop taking your medication as a way of showing how your condition affects you, as this can be dangerous.
According to the assessment guidelines, “if a claimant is unable to complete an activity or needs support to do so at a point in the day when you would reasonably expect them to complete it, the need should be treated as existing for the whole of the day, even if it does not exist at other points in the day.”
So, in other words, if you can’t do something at one particular point in the day, the healthcare professional should take this into account, even if you can do that activity later on.
Make sure they know how the changing nature of Parkinson’s affects you, including how you manage when your symptoms are at their worst.
- Tell them about any pain or tiredness you feel, or would feel, while carrying out each activity they ask you about, and after you have carried it out. Consider how you would feel if you had to do the same task repeatedly.
- Tell them how long it takes you to do things if your Parkinson’s slows you down, or if you would avoid doing the task they are asking you about because you have had accidents in the past. For example, if you don’t cook with hot pans anymore because of problems with your grip or because your tremor makes it dangerous.
- Don’t overestimate your ability to do things. If your condition varies, let them know about what you are like on bad days as well as good days. The healthcare professional’s opinion should not be based on a snapshot of your condition on the day of the consultation – they should consider the effects of your condition over time. If you have problems at some stage of the day, for example if mornings are difficult for you but you feel better once you have taken your medication, this is relevant. Intermittent problems can still help you get an award of PIP.
- You should only be treated as being able to perform a task if you can do so safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period. Try to make it clear to the healthcare professional if this is not the case.
After the consultation
After the consultation, the healthcare professional will complete their report and send it to a Department for Work and Pensions case manager. They will then decide whether or not to award you PIP and, if it is awarded, at what rate and for how long.
How is PIP paid?
PIP is normally paid every 4 weeks into a bank, building society or Post Office card account.
Asking for your PIP claim to be looked at again
If your claim is turned down, you have one calendar month from the date of the decision in which to ask the Department for Work and Pensions to look at the decision again. This is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’.
You can also ask for a mandatory reconsideration if you are unhappy with the level of the benefit that has been awarded or the period for which it has been awarded.
Don’t be discouraged from asking for a mandatory reconsideration. Be careful, however, because when you ask for one, the Department for Work and Pensions will look at the whole award and they can take away the rate of PIP you have already been granted.
If you are in any doubt, contact the Parkinson’s UK helpline 0808 800 0303 or contact your Parkinson’s local adviser.
How to ask for a mandatory reconsideration
To ask for a mandatory reconsideration, call the number on the decision letter. When you get through, you should do the following:
- Request a mandatory reconsideration of the decision. Explain why you disagree with their decision simply at this stage, for example, “I believe that you’ve underestimated the effect of my disability and consequently underestimated the extent of my mobility problems and/or the difficulties I have in carrying out daily living activities.”
- Ask them to send you copies of all the evidence that was used in making the decision.
- Ask them not to take any further action until you have had the chance to respond to that evidence.
Put your request in writing as well. Send it to the address on the decision letter. Keep a copy for yourself.
If you have not received the evidence after 2 weeks, telephone the Department for Work and Pensions again to remind them to send it.
Building a case
When you do receive the evidence, you should get a better idea of why the decision was made. In most cases there will be a report produced by the healthcare professional at the face-to-face consultation.
Compare their report with what you wrote on the ‘How your disability affects you’ form. Look for where there is a difference of opinion.
For example, you may have written on the ‘How your disability affects you’ form that you could not walk more than 20 metres without severe discomfort, but the healthcare professional noted in their report that they thought you could manage about 100 metres.
Where you find such differences, try to get medical evidence showing that what you said on the form was correct.
For example, a letter from your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse describing the difficulties you have in walking and confirming that your estimate of 20 meters tallies with their understanding of your condition.
Once you have got evidence to support your case, send a copy of it to the address on the decision letter.
If you need more time to get the evidence, inform the Department for Work and Pensions how long this is likely to take, so they do not make a decision straight away.
A Department for Work and Pensions case manager will look at any further evidence you send. They will then send you a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’ which will either confirm that they have been able to change the decision in your favour or explain that they have been unable to change the decision.
If it is the latter, you now have one calendar month from the date of the mandatory reconsideration notice to lodge an appeal to an independent tribunal.
How to appeal a PIP decision
You can appeal against a decision on the official appeal form (SSCS1). The mandatory reconsideration notice will tell you how to get one of these.
The SSCS1 form will ask if you would like your appeal to be considered with or without a hearing. Choosing a hearing and attending the tribunal can greatly improve your chances of a successful outcome.
Your appeal will be considered by an independent appeal tribunal. These tribunals are informal – they are not like courts. If you have a carer, they can attend as well to provide their account of your needs.
You can contact a local advice centre such as Citizens Advice to see if they can give you any support with an appeal and possibly provide a representative to present your case at the hearing.
What if my condition gets worse in the future?
If you are awarded PIP and there is a change in your condition some time in the future, you can ask for the award to be looked at again.
This is worth doing if you think you might qualify for another component or a higher rate of either component.
Be aware that the Department for Work and Pensions will look at the whole award and they can take away the rate of PIP you have already been granted.
Before you do anything, make sure that you satisfy the conditions for the new component or the higher rate.
You will have to have satisfied the conditions for the new component or the higher rate for at least 3 months before your award can be increased.
If you're worried about condition getting worse and receiving PIP, our free confidential helpline provides support and advice to anyone unsure about what to do next. Call 0808 800 0303
What happens if I go into hospital or a care home?
Your PIP will stop if you have been in hospital for a total of 4 weeks.
This can be in one stay, or several stays, where the gaps between stays are no more than 4 weeks each time. Payments will restart when you return home.
If you are in hospital when you first claim PIP, you cannot be paid it during your stay. Payment can only start once you leave.
If you pay your own fees for the care home without help from the local authority or health service, your PIP can continue to be paid.
If the local authority helps with the fees, the PIP daily living component will stop after a total of 4 weeks.
This can be in one stay, or several stays, where the gaps between stays are no more than 4 weeks each time. It can restart if you return home.
The mobility component is not affected even if the local authority helps with the fees.
If a nursing home is paid for by the health service, both the PIP daily living and mobility components will usually stop after four weeks and can restart when you return home.
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Helpline and local advisers
Our helpline and Parkinson's local advisers are here to answer any questions you have about Personal Independence Payment.
Call us on 0808 800 0303